An energy and environmental consultant hired by opponents of the proposed White Oak Wind Energy Center maintains Invenergy Wind LLC fails to meet several requirements for a special-use permit for the wind farm.
Tom Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis Inc., Arlington, Va., spoke to the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals during a hearing Wednesday night. He said the proposed 100-turbine wind farm in McLean and Woodford counties would be a detriment to the public because of noise levels and visibility.
Hewson said he did a “simple approach” simulation of one turbine to see how far a person had to be away from the turbine before it complied with Illinois’ noise regulations.
“At 750 feet away, it exceeded the range,” he said, noting that three property owners have asked for waivers to allow a turbine in about that range.
Hewson said it wasn’t until a person was 1,200 feet away from the turbine that the noise met Illinois’ requirements.
Joel Link, Midwest director of business director for Invenergy, testified Tuesday night that turbines would meet the McLean County requirement of 1,500 feet away from homes that don’t have turbines on their property.
Hewson said the turbines – which Link said will be 405 feet tall –“are taller than the Statue of Liberty (which is 305 feet tall).”
The lights on top of the turbines will be “visible for a long distance,” he said, and the shadow flicker from the turning blades in the sunlight would cause a strobe effect that could affect some medical conditions.
Hewson said he found 11 studies and/or surveys about the effect of wind farms on property values. Seven reported adverse effects, while four said there may not be any adverse affects.
Invenergy cites two of the four surveys in materials it filed with county, he said.
He admitted all of the studies or surveys had some flaws.
Zoning board member Drake Zimmerman noted a Danish study showed only a 17-cent difference in home value.
Hewson also suggested board members read a European study on the effect of ice being thrown from the blades of the turbine. But board member David Kinsella said Invenergy likely would turn off the turbines if there was significant icing because it would become unbalanced.
“I just suggested you read the study “¦ evaluate the risks of people at different distances,” Hewson said.
Hewson was allowed to testify Wednesday because he had to return home today. But, because time ran out before everyone got to question Hewson, he will be asked to return for a hearing next week.
Before Hewson’s testimony, Link continued the presentation started at Tuesday’s hearing.
Link said the project would provide 150 short-term jobs; the company would follow Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for noise; and none of the turbines will block microwave signals, including 9-1-1.
The company tested television reception and if it is altered after construction of the turbines, solutions will be found.
Testimony will continue today at 6 p.m. at Heartland Community College.
By Mary Ann Ford
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